Article

The future, faster: Retail’s inflection point

May 25, 2020

As we entered 2020, retail leaders everywhere were preparing for the future: integrating new technologies, designing flexible infrastructure and crafting enduring partnerships to meet future demands.

COVID-19 interrupted those preparations, causing widespread disruption of virtually every component of traditional retail. Retail leaders are focused on solving problems for families and communities as the world adjusts to new realities.

Thankfully, we’re finding that our meticulous planning and relentless pursuit of long-term innovation mattered—a lot. COVID-19 has created a new inflection point for retail, presenting new opportunities for solutions that make customers happier, partnerships stronger and growth more assured.

Prepare for the shoppers of the future, faster

Getting to retail’s future faster starts with delivering seamless omnichannel experiences across all customer touchpoints. The flexibility to serve customers wherever and however they shop best positions retailers to adjust for era-defining events like COVID-19.

The future of retail will be fueled by data. Preparing for tomorrow’s shoppers starts with best practices in customer-facing technologies today. Shoppers gravitate to brands that customize deeply personalized experiences. Data makes that possible. Get to the future faster by prioritizing the curation and safeguarding of customer data and harnessing data to enable 360-degree views of shopper behavior. The next decade will see the very notion of “channel” replaced by customer-centric organization.

Fostering partnerships for retail success

While we can’t predict all the long-term implications of COVID-19 on the retail landscape, we can create stronger connections with the partners we’ll need most. Getting to the future faster means fostering strong partnerships with leaders in banking, payments and security technology.

Successful retailers are realizing more value than ever from their payment partners. The point of sale is conceptually and physically in constant evolution. COVID-19 adds entirely new layers of safety and sanitation considerations. Curating relationships with payment partners has helped retailers stay ahead of consumer demand for emerging alternatives like digital wallets. Today those partnerships are helping retailers navigate dramatic shifts to digital payment channels.

Continuing to successfully navigate these changes means crafting long-term relationships with partners who can solve POS and omnichannel pain points. The building blocks of tomorrow’s payments can be seen in emerging real-time payment capabilities, intelligent APIs and omnichannel solutions for the most complex payment scenarios. Those scenarios will become even more digitally focused, with all varieties of integrated, contactless and even invisible payments in high demand by an increasingly safety-conscious world.

Spikes in opportunistic fraud in the wake of COVID-19 highlight the vital importance of payment partnerships. Working with payment and security partners will limit risks from fraud by leveraging proactive solutions that rely on the latest in machine learning and AI. Getting to the future faster means working with security and payment partners to fighting fraud with intelligent solutions that still maximize authorizations for our valued customers.

Creating tomorrow’s infrastructure, today

Smart businesses are establishing a baseline of best practices. That means safe, fast, frictionless payments; exceptional, personalized customer service; vault-like protection of personal data; seamless management and easy use of reward programs.

As retail leaders head toward the future faster, we will see checkout friction fade. Point-of-sale experiences will recede for shoppers and merchants alike, each liberated for other pursuits by payments that happen almost effortlessly.

Existing competitors will intensify their efforts, new competitors will emerge. Customers will understandably expect more—and they won’t wait for followers. Now as then, they’ll turn to leaders who got to the future faster.